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Spector NS body shape and Warwick - What´s the bottom line?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by CoolHat, Dec 23, 2004.

  1. Now let´s get this one straight!

    As we all know, Warwick Streamer basses are based on the same body shape as Spector NS series, originally designed by Ned Steinberger. I´ve been under the impression that Warwick bought the license for the shape fair and square, without any foul play.

    However, every now and then different versions of this story come up in various TB threads - usually ones about Behringer, Fender clones and lawsuits. Some people claim that Warwick stole the design initially, and only paid the licensing fee after Spector threatened them with a lawsuit. Others say that Warwick used to pay the fee, but ceased to do so after some time.

    So what´s the bottom line? Does anyone here have any reliable info about this subject?
  2. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Inactive

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España
  3. Spector_Ray


    Aug 8, 2004
    I emailed PJ Rubal, National Product Manager and Artist Relations for Spector and he had this to say:

    "The truth is that Ned designed the NS curved body shape for Spector in March 1977. This was Ned’s first musical instrument design, and an instant hit. Warwick came on to the scene in 1984 with their Streamer bass, an obvious ‘version’ (ok, rip off) of the now very popular Spector NS. When approached by Spector, Warwick did agree to and did pay royalties (for a while) to Spector for their error.
    Stuart sold Spector to Kramer after that. Warwick stopped paying, Kramer chose not to pursue them."

    There you have it, straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. :bassist:
  4. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Who owns Spector now...since spector was sold to kramer, and kramer to gibson?
  5. Spector_Ray


    Aug 8, 2004
    Stuart Spector worked for Kramer after he sold the company to them. When Kramer went belly up in the early 90's, Stuart continued to make Spector basses under the Stuart Spector Designs name. He sued Kramer for the rights to use the name and finally won that right. Mr. Spector owns the name and the company once again.
  6. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Alright thats what i thought. Thanks.
  7. It would be interesting to see transcripts of this legal decision. He sued and won early cancellation of a non-compete clause presumably and the right to use SSD instead of the prior "Spector" brand name. That seems straightforward enough.

    I wonder if this ruling also extended to ownership of the original NS shape? Now that seems like a bit of a stretch. Unless this was part of the lawsuit, like Warwick, he would be "ripping off" a design that is now owned by someone else, regardless of who made it first?

    It's just food for thought.
  8. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    It should also be noted that besides the "Streamer" copy of the NS, one of Warwicks other early basses was the short lived "Nobey Meidle" (SP?), a wood Steinberger copy. Seems Warwick owes Ned Steinberger double credit.

    I've always felt, regardless of quality, that almost all subsequent Warwick "designs" were based, in part, on the NS (Streamer) design approach. (i.e.: relative style, curved bodies, rounded edges, etc.)
  9. Spector_Ray


    Aug 8, 2004
    If I remember correctly, I think I remember seeing a bass with the NS body made by Samick during the SSD years. I wonder if Stuart was shopping for a manufacturer to build the less expensive versions during this time. Anyone else remember seeing these basses?
  10. I love to play "devil's advocate", so let me point out that this is the viewpoint of one party--Spector--and we do not have the benefit of hearing Warwick's point of view.

    Trademark infringement cases involve a lot of gray areas. If it goes down to a jury's opinion, there's sometimes little real scientific evidence. So it boils down to the lawyers: which side has the lawyers that are more skilled at swaying the jury's hearts.

    Many companies will just bite the bullet and pay up with some sort of settlement, just to get the case over with. Lawyer's fees aren't cheap, and a single litigation, deserved or undeserved, can consume an awful lot of a company's resources (time, personnel, and morale, as well as money). So companies will just go ahead and pay out rather than drag the case through the courts for years.

    From a personal point of view, I'd be hard pressed to find the NS shape so distinctive that I'd consider it a trademark. (ducks for cover). I mean, it's got an upper and lower cutout and some contours on the sides. How can they be THAT different????
    Dark Red Moon likes this.
  11. Spector_Ray


    Aug 8, 2004
    If you want to split hairs, I'm sure there are exacting specifications to the bodies. Fender P bodies and Jackson Concert bodies look similar, but if you take measurements, they will be different. Just the same as if you take an NS body and a P body and put them side by side. They're both double cutaway bodies, but they're both destinctive enough that you could identify them immediately.
  12. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    Possibly Spector's concave body was unique to electric basses when Ned Steinberger conceived the design?

    I was amazed to read that Ned was a furniture designer before approaching Stuart Spector.

    Now why can't I come up with some great design or invention! :bawl:
    InternetAlias likes this.
  13. pistoleroace


    Sep 13, 2002
    Either way, I think the Spector NS or Warwick Streamer is the best body design out there. I do like what Warwick did with the body design though, they have some contour shaping on the front of the body that the Spectors don't have, and I especially love the way they did the neck through without the full neck block showing on the face of the body. This adds a very classy touch and very clever in design, I wonder why more companies don't use this design.
  14. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    These are later changes in the design Warwick made (possibly to try to distance themselves from Spector). I almost bought a Streamer 4 in 1989 that was a Spector NS2 by any other name (identical body, solid color-not Warwicks normal wood finish, etc.). The only differences were the Warwick headstock (the tuners, however, were still mounted like Spectors, i.e. not flared back) and the Warwick "Alembic style" (Oops, there we go again) bridge.
  15. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    The Warwick Streamer body is, by far, the most comortable they manufacture in terms of weight, balance, and overall comfort. Did they rip-off Spector? "Impersonation is the sincerest form of flattery".
  16. Finger Blister

    Finger Blister

    Jul 8, 2003

    I can't even count how many companys
    have "ripped-off" the Fender J & P design.

    Nobody complains about them.
    itsalljustaride likes this.
  17. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    Then you haven't been reading talkbass threads too much. ;)

  18. jazzbass70


    Sep 8, 2003
    Thats it.
    At the End the Warwick NS Style Copy is only a copy...
    and one with less Energie. It´s an industrial Product from Germany
    like volkswagen...not bad, a good playability etc. but IMO it´s only a thing....not a Bassguitar i want to give a Name to :D
  19. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Inactive

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España
    Less energy? industrial product? not a bassguitar?

    I must say that for the shape doesnt matters, if the sounds is different then for me is not a copy its just look-like-that-one carcass of low end.

    You could also say that a sadowsky jazz is a snob version of the traditional jazz because of its shape but for me they are different aplicable basses.
  20. smakbass

    smakbass Smakkin basses for 25 years..

    Aug 6, 2002
    Vancouver Canada
    There are not many original ideas anymore look at the whole singlecut phenomina, Fodera did it on basses first and is often credited with it but isnt the Les Paul a singlecut....in the end as long as it plays and sounds good I am happy.

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  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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